I have tried so many times to find reasons why
I'm in your sights
When all you have in me is that we're happy
Am I enough to keep me in your life?
-Secondhand, The Never Ending
SeaClan reigns peacefully alongside its sister-Clan, SkyClan. The difference between the two is that one borders the ocean, while the other is crowded with tall, leafy trees. The deputy of SeaClan is a quiet she-cat with the name of Hollytail. Her calm life erupts with tragedy when rogues start appearing in SeaClan territory. After the death of a Clanmate, she sets out to find the culprit, but uncovers something she never imagined.
Part One: Interruption
I crawled into somebody's heart who meant the world to me
Love made me strong enough to be alone, it set me free
But with my friends friends to the end is where I want to be
I don't need to, but I want to sing with you, cause I miss you-I Miss You, Kimya Dawson
"Foxfang has fallen! Retreat!"
The yowl pierced my ears like the painful cry of a dying hawk. Foxfang, one of SeaClan's strongest warriors, has been killed.
My friend. My friend was dead.
I felt as if my life were moving in slow motion, the slashing of claws and baring of fangs seemed to stop. My head turning towards my leader in utter shock. He dipped his head solemnly, watching as the cats he called to retreat backed down from battle.
Where was he? Where was the body? Was there perhaps a glimpse, maybe just a fragment of a chance that he would be living, breathing, surviving through the pain?
My body froze with shock, cats running back to camp around me. We could have continued fighting, nobody else seemed to facing any drastic wounds.
We should have continued to fight.
Fleeing back was cowardly, I felt awful, for my carefully created battle plans were ruined. The rogues prevailed against our ambush, and they didn't even do it well. How did Foxfang fall so early into battle? What happened?
The cats streamed along the grassy territory, weaving along the skinny, short trees that dotted the ground. We were reaching the rocky landscape of camp, I glanced behind me, eyes catching on a few cats lagging behind. It struck me that they were dragging along a russet furred body.
The realization dug deeper into my chest, as it finally hit me that he was truly gone. I had to continue on though, for a deputy can not appear weak in front of her Clanmates. My mother told me that before she passed from sickness several moons ago.
Elders glanced up in shock, their weary eyes settling on me. I side-strepped silently, my paws scraping against the rocky ground, making way for the cats bringing in Foxfang.
"No!" A grief-stricken cry broke out from the silence. A brown tabby skirted towards us at full speed, eyes overflowing with clear, pain-filled tears.
Finchflight. My best friend since we were suckling milk in the nursery.
Her head whipped to me, as the cats surrounding Foxfang's cold body backed off. "You told me the battle plan was foolproof, Hollytail!" She sobbed, her tail resting gently on his chest. "Why him? Why did it go wrong for him?" She demanded with a choking voice.
My wide, green eyes stared the body. My mouth gaped, as I tried to choke out an answer that would not come. The battle plan did not even commence, we were just in the midst of trying to weed out the weaker ones from the group. Foxfang shouldn't have died, not then.
"Hollytail!" She screamed out, placing her forehead to Foxfang's lifeless one. "Answer me!" Her head quickly swung back towards me, her eyes fiery yet afraid.
"It... It wasn't supposed to happen," I stuttered, my whiskers quivering in shock from my friend's furious demand. "The plan wasn't even in action, Finchflight, I-... I..."
Our leader shoved past me, his extremely long yet well-groomed brown tabby pelt brushing against mine. He stared at the body that Finchflight was pressed against. Cats slowly crept toward our group, murmuring very few words of grief.
"It is not her fault. It is the fault of a rogue who killed him, Finchflight." He spoke, but his words would offer little comfort to the grieving mate of the lost Foxfang.
The small, light brown tabby buried her muzzle in her dead mate's russet fur.
"We will not stop until we kill whoever murdered Foxfang."
The words caused an eerie chill to race across the pelts of the SeaClan cats. Finchflight looked up, teary and red-eyed at the leader, her lower jaw quivering at his proposition.
The nightmares caused fear to run down my spine, my fur sticking up in all places. My eyes darted around, glaring at the bushes that made up the warrior den.
I couldn't sleep. Not after constantly seeing Foxfang's lifeless body staring at me with those glassy, staring-to-space eyes in my dreams.
I rose to my paws, my tail sweeping past the nests of my fellow Clanmates. I continued on to the medicine den, a very low-hanging tree that had erupted from the cracks in the rocky ground many years ago. Many bramble thickets surrounded the tree, protecting the precious herbs inside.
I cleared my throat. "Berryclaw," my murmur disappeared among the emptiness of the camp. "I need to see you."
"And would that be my deputy?" The spiky, ginger furred tom pushed his way through the brambles. "Ah, Hollytail. I would invite you in, but I fear that it is not a pleasant sight inside."
"Hm?" Curiosity glimmered in my eyes.
"Ah... It seems that Longstar is keen on finding out who the killer is. So I was set to investigate the damages to the body." Berryclaw avoided my eyes, he seemed much more interested on staring towards the ground.
The body. I held back a growl. He could've used Foxfang's name, it would've been at least a sign of respect towards the fallen tom. "What have you found?" I said instead.
His amber eyes trailed back up to me. "Not anything pertaining to the killer. His neck was broken, not much of a gruesome death, but it was harsh. You could tell by the displacement of his-"
"That's enough," I ordered with a flick of my tail. My breathing had picked up speed, I shook my head slightly to calm myself. "I need poppy seeds."
The medicine cat's puzzling look was enough to let a sigh escape my throat. "I can't sleep." I confessed. "Not well, at least."
"If it's nightmares you're having, poppy seeds will not help. They will only lull you into a deeper sleep, one where you cannot escape from the nightmares you face." He mewed.
I rolled my eyes, and turned back around. I was still on edge for him knowing of my nightmares, but what did I expect of a medicine cat? They know nearly anything. It also wasn't hard to understand why my dreams were being disturbed after the death of one of my friends.
I padded back to the den, settling back down in my nest. I'm sorry. My thoughts echoed in my ears. But it was true.
I was so sorry.
"Any kits on the way?" I joked with my friend, giving her a jokingly pleasant smile.
Finchflight stuck her tongue out at me, yet her tail waved around with excitement. "Hopefully not for a while! I want to at least enjoy having a mate before any kits come. I hear they're a pawful!"
"Well you definitely were," I smirked. "I remember when you nearly clawed your mother's tail to shreds after having a bad dream about a rat in your nest!"
Her tail puffed out in embarrassment, and she gave me a playful shove.
"How about we go hunting, just you and me, to celebrate you and your new mate?" I purred. "We can even bring something back for Foxfang."
"Talking about me again? Sheesh, I can barely keep all these she-cats off me," a sneer rang in my ears. A russet tabby pushed through a few bushes surrounding the outskirts of camp. He gave me a pleasant nod.
I laughed and gave my friend a lick between the ears in greeting. "Always so full of yourself, aren't you?"
Foxfang shrugged. "I'm just so amazing, that's all." His eyes switched positions to give Finchflight a look in greeting. "And here's the beautiful mate who is so very lucky to have me," he padded over to her, entwining tails with the brown tabby.
Finchflight giggled, nuzzling him. "Hollytail and I were about to go out on a hunting trip together. I heard from the hunting patrol earlier that there's a flock of seagulls around! They must be migrating up north for Green-leaf."
"Fantastic. Don't get any dung on you, however. They're messy creatures, those seagulls." He smiled, mischief glimmering in his eyes.
The pleasant scene was interrupted by a painful scream.
I glared around in shock, staring back at my friends. But all I saw was Foxfang's lifeless body, Finchflight's head hung over him, tears pooling on his chest.
"Why Hollytail? Why!"
I woke up, not in shock, for it was only one of the many nightmares I had faced that night. I missed those days however, the days where I was not a deputy. The days where Foxfang, Finchflight and I could joke around and enjoy life together, basking in the sunlight and hunting together.
To my luck, the sun shimmered into the den. It was morning, I woudn't have to continue pushing through the bad dreams of the night.
It had been a moon since he was gone. A moon. Oh StarClan, did I miss that hotheaded, overconfident tom. What could've been if he wasn't dead? Would he and Finchflight have had kits by now? He always wanted them, despite her wanting to experience more of what life had to offer before having her own offspring.
But those dreams would never come true for Foxfang.
The negativity of my thoughts were dragging me down. Constantly pulling me into the depression that swirled around my emotions, turning everything dark. Even Finchflight did not experience the same agony I did. Yes, she was full of grief for her lost mate, but she was always so energetic and happy, it didn't impact her for very long.
"He's in a better place. He will be hunting with those of StarClan now." She would tell me nearly every day this moon. But every now and then I would see the tears shimmer in her eyes, or hear her whimpering for him in her sleep.
Yes she missed him terribly, but she did not ache over his loss. She did not feel the guilt of having a faulty battle plan. She did not feel as if she had failed her Clan by letting someone die so easily.
I could feel my chest compress with the pain, I couldn't breathe. I needed to get out.
I needed air.
I pushed myself from the den, gasping in the air. I managed to suppress another panic attack, for those had been happening many times in the last moon.
"Hollytail?" A soft voice whispered to me. I turned my head to see the concerned expression that hung on Finchflight's face. "You don't look so good."
"I'm fine." I pushed her concern away. I wasn't feeling up to being pitied by my Clanmates. They're supposed to look up to me, I'm their deputy. "I'm going out for a while. Tell Longstar." I ordered my friend.
She seemed hurt by my harsh words, but I was too busy sprinting out of camp to notice. I needed to be alone for just a few moments. Then I would make things better. I'd be okay if I just got a time to myself...
I could feel the pull of the breeze against my fur as I ran. I skidded to a stop, looking back at the camp that seemed to shrink away behind me. I could taste the ocean on my tongue, despite it being many lengths away from me. The ocean brought warmth with it's waters to the usually colder territory. I was told that there were other oceans, far away that had warmer territories, but the oceans brought colder waters to them.
I had never seen the ocean. It bordered our territory, but wasn't apart of it. I heard that the shores of the ocean were littered with rogues. I longed to see the blue waters that I heard stories about, but the risk of a fight was not worth it. Especially since we had recently lost Foxfang.
I continued on until I felt ready to stop. I settled myself near a tree, breathing in and out slowly, trying to calm my fast heart rate. I tried to escape the thoughts of the disappointed Finchflight from my mind.
The rustling of the grass startled me, I thought it was just the wind for a moment, but then realized it was too loud to be wind. I whipped back onto my paws, baring my fangs, fur standing on end.
"Whoever you are, you have a death wish to pick a fight with the SeaClan deputy!" I snarled.
I shot my head over to where I heard another rustle, it was quite difficult to hide in a spot where very few trees were around, so it wasn't hard to spot the cat. It was actually incredibly easy, I didn't even think they were trying to hide.
The cat was incredibly fluffy, looking as if she had been groomed by two-legs. Which was quite impossible, seeing as if I had only seen a two-leg once in my life. They barely came around here, for there were no two-leg nests in these areas. She was a calico, with big, curious eyes.
"You best get yourself off SeaClan territory before I give you a wound something fierce!" I lowered myself, fluffing out my cream tabby fur to make myself appear bigger.
"SeaClan territory?" Her blue-green eyes seemed confused. "My dear, it seems as if you are mistaken. This isn't SeaClan territory. I would know, I would've detected your Clan's scent marks."
I blinked, looking around. The sick realization hit me. I had strayed off SeaClan territory into the lands of rogues.
I turned around abruptly, marching off, embarrassed and angry at myself for making such an apprentice-like mistake.
"W-wait!" The she-cat called out to me. "Did you say deputy of SeaClan?"
I continued on, not ready to have a conversation with a dirty rogue.
"It'd be a shame if this spread to your Clanmates that their own deputy strayed off their own territory."
I stopped, turning back around. "You dare give me petty threats?" I tried to seem fearsome to the smaller she-cat. Secretly, I feared the backlash that might be brought upon me if my Clan did find out my mistake.
"One more step away, and they'll all know." The calico giggled, the same mischief shimmering in her eyes that once filled Foxfang's. I blocked away the thought, trying to make sure no more pain would rise from my heart.
I wasn't willing to play into this she-cat's little game, but the threat of shame was too much. Cats were already getting uncertain of me because of my behavior since Foxfang died.
"What's your name, lil tabby?" She smirked.
I scoffed. This cat was far smaller than me. But perhaps it was.. A joke? Was I getting so shut-off from everything that I couldn't even recognize a joke?
The calico looked expectantly at me, sitting down, wrapping her thick-furred tail around her paws. "Well?" She mewed.
I lurched away from my confused thoughts, looking back at the calico. "Hollytail. What's it matter to you?"
"I like to know who I'm talking to," she smiled warmly. It sent shivers down my spine. How could a rogue who just threatened me be acting so kindly?
"And you are?" I snorted in displeasure, longing to be back at Camp, the very place I was trying to escape from.
"Wave." She said in a dreamy voice, smoothing out her chest fur with a few quick licks. "Like ocean waves."
"A puzzling name for a calico," I retorted.
"That's true, I'll give you that." She nodded with a flick of the tail.
I let silence ring out between us for a few heartbeats. Finally, I turned around, looking back at her. "I do suppose I'm allowed to go now without consequence?" I let a smile escape from my muzzle. Maybe if I seemed nicer, she'd let me leave.
She frowned a bit. "You suppose correctly, I guess." She looked slightly disappointed.
I twitched uncomfortably after seeing the look on her face, for it matched the same look of disdain that Finchflight gave me before I left earlier.
"Come back though will you?" She asked quietly. "I don't see many Clan cats."
"I don't believe that's appropriate." I shook my head, snorting a bit at her request.
Her ears flattened. "Please?" Her voice was soft, reminding me even more of Finchflight. My heart ached to think of her this way.
Thoughts of Foxfang flooded back with the remembrance of Finchflight. I desperately pulled them back into the deeper recesses of my mind.
"Maybe." I gave a stern, simple reply. Turning back around, I left back to camp, not daring to look back in fear that I would see Finchflight's face in Wave's.
The she-cat did not cross my mind for a while after. It was nearly a half-moon since the incident with the rogue, I barely even remembered what she looked like.
"Yeah, ran out a few rogues this morning," one of my fellow Clanmates, Mousefoot, boasted. "I was surprised to know of them was fully grown, she was the size of an apprentice!" The light brown tom laughed.
A silver tabby she-cat Softfur, blinked her blue eyes in surprise. "That small huh? These rogues seem to be getting weaker and weaker by the day. I'm glad we're seeing less of 'em."
"What'd they look like?" I turned towards Mousefoot.
"I don't see why that's really important," the brown tom scoffed. "What, are you guys still trying to find Foxfang's killer? We already told you guys, nobody got a good look at the cat who did it."
"Answer the question, and cut the sass unless you want to be picking ticks off elders for the next moon." I narrowed my green eyes at the tom, he shied away slightly, avoiding my harsh gaze.
"Alright, alright," his voice lowered. "One of 'em was a big brown tabby, never seen one so big. Kinda ironic since he was with such a tiny little she-cat. Almost thought it was a SkyClan mentor straying too far onto our territory with their apprentice. Wasn't gonna fight 'em out until I realized that they didn't have any SkyClan scent." Mousefoot replied.
My eyes widened slowly. It was Wave. I hadn't seen the she-cat in so long... "What'd you do to them?"
He smiled with pride, I seemed to have piqued his interest. "Gave the big one a good nick in the ear, and the little one got a cut on her shoulder that she won't dare forget soon."
I turned away, trying to hide the anger and pain on my face. I don't know why I felt so bad about Wave getting harmed. I had only met her once, yet... I saw so much of Finchflight in her.
"I'm going to see if they came back onto our territory." I meowed quietly.
"Do you want one of us to come with you?" Softfur got to her paws, padding towards me. "You're a bit off lately, Hollytail. It might do you good to have some company."
I glared at her. "Are you saying I'm too weak to take on a few rogues? I haven't become a helpless kit just because Foxfang died!" I snapped at her.
Softfur backed up a step. "I-I'm sorry, Hollytail... We're just worried, I wasn't suggesting... I'm sorry..."
I saw the fear in her eyes. What type of deputy brought fear to her fellow Clanmates instead of pride? What was I becoming?
"No, I'm sorry." I touched my nose to her's. "I shouldn't have blown up on you. I'm just stressed out. I'll be fine, let me go alone." My voice was soft against her ears. "I promise."
She nodded slowly, making her way back to Mousefoot's side. I trailed out, but I could hear a few words escape Mousefoot before I went out of earshot.
"Did Longstar make the right choice with her?"
A thick-furred brown tabby emerged from the leader's den, a solemn look in his eyes, yet words to be said resting on his tongue. "Cats of SeaClan," he announced in a low, sorrowful voice. "Sunnystar has passed."
Cats gasped in awe, I pushed past the others with Finchflight and Foxfang at her side. Their ginger furred leader had been deeply sick with greencough, but nobody expected it to take out the last two of her lives. Fear glittered in my eyes, what would we do without Sunnystar? She was kind, understanding, and true to every word she said.
"Oh StarClan," Finchflight burried her muzzle into Foxfang's shoulder. "Why did they decide to take Sunnystar now? With the recent threat of rogues near the ocean, we need her now more than ever..."
Foxfang comforted her, placing his tail softly on her shoulder. His is saddened amber eyes looking towards me with uncertainty.
"I shall make my trek to the Moonrock tonight with Berryclaw," he mewed, mentioning the StarClan blessed rock that lay upon the shores of the ocean, where the sands were the whitest, and where brambles protected the rock fiercly. "Before I go, I must appoint my new deputy."
Shock rang around the cats. For who would Longfur choose as his deputy?
"This cat has recently trained two apprentices. She has done more than I could've ever asked of her." He dipped his head. "May StarClan hear and accept my decision, SeaClan's new deputy shall be Hollytail."
I gasped, feeling the stares of my Clanmates on my fur. Mostly the stare of my mother's piercing yellow eyes. I looked to her, seeing them fill with an insane pride. I felt as if I was going to collapse, but I made my way to Longfur after Foxfang gave me an excited shove forward.
Sunnystar just died, I shouldn't be feeling a rush of overwhelming happiness. But what else was I supposed to feel? I was SeaClan's deputy now.
Standing by Longfur, I heard them chant my name over and over. It felt endless, yet amazing. Incredible. Fantastic.
The memory replayed in my head many time. I tried to reassure myself that I was fine, that I was a great deputy. But if cats were already questioning my position of authority, then what was there left for me?
I continued on, walking through the territory. Nearing the edge where SeaClan ended and the rogue land began. I could smell the familiar scent of Wave, it rested uneasily on my tongue as I parted my jaws to take it in better.
Blood. I clarified in my mind. Even a kit could smell it clear as day. When Mousefoot said he got a good wound on Wave, he wasn't kidding.
I glanced down, seeing the sticky red liquid scattered out. There wasn't much of a fight, it was more of a hit and run. Which in this case, the rogues were the ones running.
I walked on forward, my pawpads running smoothly against the soft grass, which seemed to be growing less and less as I approached the roaring noises of the sea. No, I couldn't see it, for a downward incline blocked it from my view.
I could still detect her scent, it seemed as if the other cat's scent was started to diverge from her's. They had seperated along the way. Maybe she went off to clean her wound after the incident.
I followed the scent trail. It seemed insane, I had no reason to follow a fully grown cat. But I had to see if she was okay. I needed to. Perhaps it was just the thought of Finchflight with the same big eyes that Wave had that made me feel sympathy.
I approached the incline, but stopped suddenly, eyes beholding the beauty that was the long-expanding blue waves of the ocean. I had never seen such a sight before, the water crashing among the rocks jutting from the surface, the seagulls swooping down for their prey, it as all too amazing.
"H-Hollytail?" An astonished mew rang in my ears.
I glanced down the incline, seeing the calico coat of a she-cat near a jagged rock, jutting up from the tan sand. She stared in shock, as if surprised I existed.
"Why are you here- I mean, you're so far from your territory. It's been so long- I just- wow." The she-cat seemed to struggle to stand up on her paws, hobbling up the incline towards me.
My green eyes trailed to her shoulder, the gash Mousefoot left in her was truly a sight to behold. It was beginning to crust over with dark, clotted blood. She saw my watching her wound with wide eyes, and pulled away slightly.
"You're not coming to fight... Are you?" The calico was fearful, as if I were the same SeaClan warrior who attacked her.
"No," my reply was simple. I was not going to comfort her with small, soft words. It is best to be blunt than to sugar-coat things.
She seemed to get less tense, staring at me with big, perplexed eyes. I looked away, seeing more and more of Finchflight in her every moment. "Why are you here, might I ask again?" She mewed her tail slowly rising, waving with a slight curiosity.
"Mousefoot chased you off the territory," I lifted a paw, giving it a lick so I wouldn't have to look her in the eye.
I paused, biting my tongue. What would I tell her? I was worried about the health of a rogue?
"I wanted to know if you had information for me." I lied. Well, it wasn't completely a lie. Longstar said we would not stop with the rogues, until we learned the killer of Foxfang. Perhaps Wave would have something to confess. "I will be willing to trade help for your insight."
"On what?" Wave blinked, frowning a bit.
"Were you there during the last battle between the rogues and SeaClan?" I asked, trying to keep my shaky voice steady.
She was quiet, looking to her paws. "Yes." The calico's mew was soft, yet held guilt.
I puffed out my chest, trying to seem like the strong deputy I was supposed to be. "Tell me everything," I demanded. "And I will help you with the shoulder wound, I doubt you rogues are skilled in herbs, hm?"
Wave's ears flattened. "Will you follow your word? I'm not one to trust you Clan cats," her head turned to the right, glaring down to her wounded shoulder. "Especially not since today." Her eyes narrowed, staring back at me.
"You have to deputy's word, may StarClan be my witness." I vowed.
The small she-cat scoffed a bit. "StarClan..." She muttered under her breath, turning back towards where the ocean shore lay. "Follow me to my nest. Then we can talk."
She stumbled towards the same jagged rock I saw her by earlier. I followed slowly behind, my tail trailing on the ground until my paws came in contact with the sand. I paused, glaring down, it was damp with evening dew and clung to every crevice.
Wave saw my standing still in shock, she gave a small giggle, relaxing back into her usually playful behavior. "First time on the shore, huh?" She cocked her head to the side, giving me a smirk.
I rolled my eyes, shaking off the sand that held onto my claws and continued towards her. As I approached the boulder, I caught sight of a makeshift nest full of seagull feathers and moss from the forest. I hadn't seen moss in a while, considered it didn't grow in SeaClan territory.
"Where'd you get that?" I angled my ears towards the green substance littering her nest.
Wave side-glanced over to the moss. "SkyClan seems abundant in it."
"Trespassing not only in SeaClan territory, but SkyClan as well?" My voice was tinged with a slight anger. How dare they not only invade our lands, but our sister Clan as well?
Wave looked away from me, settling into her nest, wrapping her thick tail around her dainty paws. "You leave us with the bare minimum of what we need. You believe the ocean shore provides us with an abundance of nesting supplies or herbs? No cat can live like this."
I pushed away her reply, but it stung deep in my heart. She was right, no cat should live where they cannot heal their sick or comfortably survive.
"Tell me what you know of the battle, and I will help your shoulder." I rose my head, keeping my chin up with an empty pride.
Wave gazed back towards the crashing waves of the ocean, closing her eyes and breathing in the salty air. "It is not a day I am proud of." She mewed quietly, tearing up a feather from her nest under her paws. "I was a coward. The rogues told me to fight, but I couldn't. I don't know how to defend myself."
I was silent, waiting for her to continue.
"The moment SeaClan attacked, I was scared. It was an ambush on the outskirts of your territory. We were just trying to get prey," she looked back at me, her eyes pained. "Leaf-fall has begun, the fish in the ocean are moving to the southern waters for Leaf-bare. We have to eat, we weren't trying to cause harm."
"Just tell me about the battle," I stopped her. I couldn't keep listening to her words, for they filled me with shame. Clancats are supposed to be proud and strong, willing to fight for their land. But the rogues seemed helpless. SeaClan wasn't very big, we could've spared some prey... I shook my head slightly, a way to keep the thoughts from invading my mind.
Wave frowned, but dipped her head slowly at my words. "I was on a rock, close to a tree. As I left, I remember slipping down the rock, scraping my shoulder against it. There were casualties from what I saw, but as soon as I escaped, my group seemed to be fleeing back to me. But they weren't fleeing, we actually... won."
I growled. "You didn't win, your little group murdered one of our warriors. Brutally snapped his neck!" I fought back the tears that died to come out, the words I wanted to scream burning on the back of my tongue.
Her eyes grew wide. "You called off the battle, because one of your own died..?" She was confused, concerned, maybe even worried.
The rogues didn't know that Foxfang died.
But one of them knew. The one that killed Foxfang knew of their actions.
I stared to my paws, pulling my head back up, gaining back the strength to get to my paws. My eyes caught sight of cobwebs amidst the cracks in the boulder. I leaped forwards, grasping the boulder with my claws, pulling my self up with shaky legs. Wave stared at me as if I were insane, but I swung my paw towards the cobwebs, tugging them free of their hold. I leaped down, landing hard on the sand, my paws sinking deep into the soft ground.
I limped forward, one paw up, wound with cobwebs from the boulder. Wave shied away when I came towards her shoulder, but I placed my tail tip on her.
To my surprise, she relaxed immediately.
I did not know what herbs went best with cuts, nor where to find them. So in response to my lack of knowledge, I rasped my tongue slowly across her wound, making her cry out in pain. She pulled back, snarling slowly.
"I am cleaning it." I meowed quietly, my voice far calmer than before. "It needs to be cleaned unless you want it to get infected."
Wave winced, slowly bringing her crusted wound back to me. I began to lick it once more, cleaning it of the dirt and crusty remains. Mousefoot definitely wasn't holding back when he did this. Despite her cries of pain, I continued onward until it seemed fine to place the cobwebs on.
I pulled the web from my paw with my jaws, wadding it up in my mouth, placing it on her shoulder. "It'll soak up the remaining blood," I explained with a flick of my ears. "It'll also keep any dirt or stuff like that from getting back in."
"T-thank you." She whispered in shock, looking back to me with those wide, blue-green eyes.
"I'll be back to check on you tomorrow." I meowed briskly, turning away from her, beginning to pad off from the nest.
"Why? Why would you come back?" Wave asked, struggling to get up, as if though she wanted to follow me back. "I do not have any important information for you anymore. Why would you keep... Helping me?"
I stopped walking, staring to my cream tabby paws. I lashed my tail quickly, shaking my head to myself. I continued on walking after, not looking back.
For I didn't even understand why I wanted to return.
"Hollytail!" An excited, yet relieved meow gasped into my ears. I glanced to the side, watching as my friend Finchflight, bounded towards me.
She touched noses with me, letting out another sigh of relief. "You were gone since sundown!" She exclaimed. "Cats were worried- do I smell blood?" Her eyes widened.
I closed my mouth quickly, realizing the blood from Wave's wound was still fresh on my breath. I swallowed down words I was about to say, clamping my jaws firmly shut.
"Are you okay, Hollytail?" She examined me, circling me from all sides. "I don't seem to see any scratches, what happened?"
"I chased some rogues off the territory," I lied. "Fast little ones, they were. Seem to be constantly coming back on our land right after we get them off."
Finchflight looked up, dipping her head solemnly. "Isn't that that hard truth," she sighed deeply. "I fear that they will keep coming back, again and again and-," she stopped herself, frowning slightly. "They thirst for blood, they made that clear when Foxfang was killed."
I could hear the pain in her voice. I slowly pulled myself in, rubbing my muzzle against her's, trying to comfort my friend. Perhaps she was more trapped in grief than I once believed.
"We will find the killer, I promise." I whispered to her, holding my head close to her's. "And we will end their pitiful lives."
This seemed to bring peace to the warrior, as she had buried her snout into my soft shoulder fur. I let out an exasperated breath.
I had to find justice for her. Even if I couldn't find it for myself.
The ground was soft beneath my paws, despite the deadening of the grass from Leaf-fall. I kept my body close to the ground, tail low, eyes set on my prey. Another seagull straying too far from the ocean, it seemed. It's wing looked injured, as if another predator hooked onto it before it arrived here.
I leaped forward, but alas, my spring was too late. The bird took flight sloppily, taking to the air, soaring off. It wouldn't be up there for very long, not with that weakened wing, but it was too far gone to chase after.
"Nice catch," the sneer of one of my Clanmates echoed in my ears. I whipped around to face a hard grey she-cat, her bright blue eyes staring deep into mine. "We'll be able to feed all the elders with that one."
"Shut up, Cindergaze." I gave a gruff reply.
"I know hunting isn't your strong suit," she began in a long, drawn out voice. "But you seem exceptionally awful recently. What's going on with our dear ole deputy?"
I sent her a furious glare. "How dare you challenge me?" I could feel my claws unsheathe from my paws. "Would you like me to send those words back where they came from?" I snarled.
"You wouldn't be able to land a blow on a mouse ever since Foxfang died!" She bared her teeth.
I sprung at her, my claws outstretched, aiming for her ears. But I was bowled to the side, the air knocked from my lungs. I scrambled back up, sputtering for breath, staring at my opponent.
It was Mousefoot, staring at the two of us like we were spoiled kits. "Watch your tongue, Cindergaze. If it weren't for me intervening, your ears would've been shredded." His gaze switched to me. "And for the deputy..." He shook his head quietly.
I stomped past him. "Get your prey," I demanded. "Head back to camp. This hunting patrol is off."
Mousefoot stared in shock, but he lifted up a small mouse he got early. Cindergaze quietly picked up two seagulls she managed to catch as well.
"And for you Cindergaze," I stopped, sending her a sour look. "If you want to challenge your deputy with a fight, you best take it up with Longstar next time.
Her mouth gaped, but she quickly shut it, looking silently to her paws. I headed out in the opposite direction, only to be stopped by Mousefoot's curious mew.
"Where ya going, Hollytail?" The brown tom asked.
"I need to cool down." I explained, but it was a blatant lie, at least it caused the two to continue their trek back to camp.
But I was heading in the same direction as the ocean.
The moist sand clumped back in my paws. The sun was rolling slowly down the horizon, causing an ocean glow on the once blue waters. I trudged through the grainy ground, looking towards the rock where Wave's nest was. The she-cat was not there, but by the ocean, back towards me.
My paw steps were heard, her head turned slightly, catching sight of me. Her eyes widened, as if she expected another rogue rather than me.
"What are you doing here?"
I sat by her without a word, exhaling slowly, inhaling in the salty, moist air of the ocean. The calico stared at me in shock, ears flattening.
"You gonna answer me, Clan cat?" She got to her paws.
I raised an eye-whisker at her, nose twitching. "Sit down, Wave." I ordered. "It's been a rough day, okay? So just relax."
She blinked, settling back down, surprising me by actually following my demands. "I found cobwebs. I got one of the other rogues to help me out by cleaning it and putting the webs on. They didn't do it as well as you, but they at least... Did it." The calico shrugged with a halfhearted laugh.
I looked to her shoulder, seeing the sloppy work of a rogue. However, it would suffice for a few days.
"What seems to be troubling the oh-mighty deputy of SeaClan?" She let out a short purr.
I looked towards the icy water lapping at my paws. "My Clan seems to be losing faith in me."
Wave was quiet for a few moments. "How so?"
My head slowly moved up, eyes blankly staring towards the shimmering sun, beginning to disappear behind the water. "Foxfang is dead. He's been dead, for a few moons now. I know you know this, but I can't... I can't shake his death."
"Did you love him?"
I paused, the tears filling me eyes. "Perhaps there was a time where my feelings for him seemed to be... Love." I shuddered at the last word. "But the feeling was lost. I cared for him more as a friend than anything."
Wave stared at me questioningly.
I took in her stare, shaking my head. "I have not loved for a long time." I insisted. "Whatever I felt for him was due to our friendship."
"But you miss him so much," the calico shrugged slightly. "Maybe you still loved him, even after his death."
"No. He was Finchflight's mate." My voice was frail.
Wave was silent, following my eyes to the horizon. "Why do you keep coming back, Hollytail..?"
"I don't know." I meowed simply, admitting it clearly.
"Do you crave closure? Closure from Foxfang's death? Is that why you're visiting a mere rogue like me?"
"I don't know."
"Do you want me to help you find his killer, Hollytail?"
I quieted her with the touch of my tail tip to her shoulder. I made sure not to touch the wound, to not harm the small she-cat. "Just... Let me think." I exhaled deeply, my words breathy and quiet.
And we sat there until the sun disappeared, and the stars began to glitter in the navy sky. I didn't understand why, but sitting here, with her, brought me to peace.
It was the first time I ever was able to breathe easily since Foxfang's death.
Part Two: Distrust
That you're alive and have a soul,
But it takes someone to come around to show you how.
She’s the tear in my heart, I'm alive.
-Tear In My Heart, Twenty One Pilots
My tail trailed alongside the soft, cool ground of the forest. The air was crisp with the fresh, cold air of an upcoming Leaf-Bare. I glanced towards the cats near me. A scrawny yet energetic grey apprentice bounded about, causing their mentor to let out an exhausted sigh.
"You'd scare away any rogue near the border with that noise!" A silver tom scolded the she-cat.
"Isn't that a good thing?" The apprentice stopped and gave her mentor a confused look.
"Not when we want surprise on our side," he stifled a smile.
I purred softly. "Give Bluepaw a break, Silverears." I smirked. "Every apprentice is a bit antsy on their first patrol."
Silverears shrugged. "Suppose so..."
Bluepaw gave me a thankful look and continued on, a bit more quietly than before. She sniffed the ground eagerly, even though the only scent was the stale smell of ocean salt and mouse. I perked my ears, but heard just the sound of the ocean in the distance and the rustling of trees in the chilly wind.
"We've marked the borders, and checked twice around," Silverears noted, "should we head back?"
I side-glanced towards him, but gave a small nod as my ears flattened. "You two head back, I'll go around just once more..."
The tom had a sad expression, as seen in the corner of my vision. "Hollytail... The rogues are far off. They haven't come near since the battle." His eyes softened slightly. "Come back to camp with us, get some rest, you deserve it. I'm sure Finchflight will want to tell you about her first hunting trip with Leafpaw. "
The thought of Finchflight's new apprentice gave me a strong urge to go back to camp. Perhaps hearing a few stories about the training would settle me for the night. No. I shook my head.
"A third time around won't hurt anyone," I insisted with a smile. "Go on back, I'll be okay."
Silverears dipped his head, and touched his tail to Bluepaw's shoulder.The two turned and began padding off. I didn't move until I could just faintly hear their pawsteps fade off into the distance.
The soothing sound of the ocean caused me to start towards it. Yes, I lied to Silverears about my true intentions. But seeing her was important. Seeing her brought me one step closer to discovering Foxfang's killer.
I continued on as I traveled between the hard, rocky ground of SeaClan territory to the soft sand of the ocean shore. My senses were blocked as the noise of crashing waves and scent of sea water overwhelmed me. I finally saw the rock in the distance where her nest was. I came towards it, but was confused to not see the bright, bubbly calico there.
Approaching closer I realized the nest was torn. My eyes widened as I caught the scent of blood, seeing the red splotches between the moss.
There was a struggle.
My heart began beating rapidly. I didn't understand why I felt so worried for the rogue, but the panic was set deep inside of me. She was... My friend? No. She was important to getting closure from Foxfang. Important to the mission I promised Finchflight I would do. I could not lose such a vital piece to figuring everything out.
I quickly sniffed the ground, catching hold of her scent. I followed it, weaving between pieces of driftwood and tall, jutting boulders. Then I saw in the distance, a group of rogues near a pile of sharp rocks. They were crowding around something, making loud, disruptive noises.
They didn't notice as I came forward, for their backs were towards me, all attention set on what was in front of them.
"Ya been talking with Clan cats have ya?" A snarl broke out from a very large russet tom, his fur prickling with anger. "Ya been spreading secrets? Ya been tellin' them where we reside?"
"No! No! The Clan cat... The Clan cat came to me!" A startled, pleading voice cried out.
"She's lying," a ginger she-cat lowered her head, giving me a small glimpse at what they were surrounding.
A brown tabby tom, a bit smaller and younger than the others bristled. "Of course she is! Why would a Clan cat care about her?"
The first russet tom nodded towards the younger one. "I agree with ya, Oak. Not to mention she's been nothin' but a waste to this group. All she's been doin' is just using us as defense, takin' up our scarce prey, and been a coward on the battle field. I don't know why we kept her in the first place!"
"Now she abuses her right in this group by dragging a Clan cat onto our land? She's probably helping them sort out another attack on us!"
The cats let out outraged hisses and yowls. They were enraged and furious, clearly believing that Wave was giving me information about the rogues, rather than just information on Foxfang's killer.
"Kill her now!" The russet tom ordered. "I want her blood stained on the shore, a constant reminder of what happens to traitors!"
My eyes widened, I leaped forward, shoving past those in my way. Wave gasped as I stood protectively in front of her, my tail lashing with fury. "Get away from her!" I snapped at those around me.
They eyed me with disbelief. The russet tom stepping back slightly.
"Her scent matches the one we found by Wave's nest," he growled, then smiled with a small sneer. "She shows herself in the flesh. Comin' to protect her lil Wave."
"Leave Wave alone, I'm warning you." I spat at him, gaze shifting from side to side, sizing up my opponents.
The tom laughed loudly. "Oh? One Clan cat against a group of rogues? What ever shall we do?"
His comment sent the group chattering with a mocking laughter. However, their tone had a thirst for blood, one that still sent shivers down my spine.
"Don't test me, tom." I kept my voice steady, feeling Wave's quick breaths against my fur behind me. "I'm deputy to SeaClan. You attack me, and you risk SeaClan and our sister Clan, SkyClan, starting full fledged war out on the rogues. You'd be wiped out within a day." I held my head up defiantly.
Whispers spread between the group, their eyes slightly growing wider with worry. They knew my threats were true. With my death, the Clans would be enraged. With the loss of both Foxfang and me, they would spend no expense chasing the rogues from their land, and killing several in the process.
The tom, presumably the leader, turned his head towards the frightened group, then back at me. "What do ya want with her? You want to let SeaClan kill her instead of a batch of rogues? What'll that give ya?" He questioned, the anger in his voice more prominent.
"I want her safe from mongrels like you."
That sent more frightening growls in that direction, but I knew that they wouldn't lay a paw on me, not since knowing my power in the Clans.
"You're... Protectin' her? What ya gonna do with her? She's a rogue!" The russet tom glared in disbelief.
"Give her to me. Let her be my responsibility." I demanded.
He gave another laugh, glaring at me like I was crazy. "Hear that, guys? Clan cat over here wants Wave! Clans seem to be collectin' cowards lately, haven't they?"
The group snickered slightly, but I stood strongly, chest puffed out.
"Fine, take her and get out of my sight." He parted away from the group, giving me a path of escape.
I turned towards Wave, who stared with wide, green eyes. I nodded gently, allowing her to go before me. The cats spit and hissed at her as she passed and I followed. When we were finally away from them and near her boulder, I guided her towards her nest.
She looked at the remains of it sadly, yet still settling on the mangled mess. "Why?" She mewed softly, not looking at me directly.
"Why what?" I cocked my head to the side, sitting down slowly into the sand.
"Why protect a rogue like me?"
"Believe it or not, you're important to me." My words perked her ears, brightening her eyes. "Important to my goal that is," I corrected myself, avoiding her hurt gaze. "I need you to find out who killed Foxfang. Perhaps with your knowledge of the battle and of the rogue group, you could help me more than before."
Wave sighed. "How am I supposed to help?" I lifted a small paw, licking away some of the blood left over from scrapes of a struggle. She clearly was forced to follow the rogues to where I found her. "I'm banished from the shores. I have to flee now where they can't find me."
I got back to my paws, trailing to where she was, lowering myself beside her. The brush of my fur against hers caused the calico to shuffle slightly away. I thought for a few moments, trying to think of a solution to this problem.
"Come to SeaClan." I suggested.
Wave bounded to her paws, her fur bristling with astonishment. "What? Are you insane? I'm a rogue, Hollytail! I'm apart of the band of cats who killed Fox-whatever! They'd kill me on sight!" She shook her head, wincing.
"You're vital to finding out everything, Longstar would understand!" I tried to reason with her, but the she-cat glared at her paws, mouth slightly gaping.
"I'm no Clan cat, Hollytail." She whispered. "You have to understand that. To be trapped with all these cats, no free space, having to put in my part for everyone else... I can't do that. I am independent-"
"You depended on the rogues for everything."
Wave paused, taking in what I mewed. Her tail lashed angrily. "Not everything! I needed their defense, and rightfully so! We were supposed to help with that! I tried to put in effort to do my part, but..." She plopped back down again, eyes sad and dark. "I'm a coward on the battlefield. I can't pull my own weight during a battle even if I tried."
"You don't need that in SeaClan, Wave." I insisted, drawing closer to her again until our flanks touched. She looked into my eyes slowly. "No, you won't be apart of the Clan. But you will find sanctuary there. You will be safe."
"What about when Longstar finds he has nothing more for me? What happens when all the information I have has been given?" Wave's question was frail and fearful.
I smiled slightly. "We will find somewhere else safe for you. Somewhere nearby, somewhere where the rogues will not bother you again." I promised.
The she-cat stayed quiet for a few moments, going over what I said to her in her head.
"I want you to come." I murmured, trying to change her mind fully.
Wave watched my mossy blue eyes with her big, ocean green ones. They were full of anxiety yet curiosity, wondering if what I had spoken to her was true. "I... I will go with you." She finally mewed very quietly, almost a faint whisper.
I got to my paws, head turning towards the slender trees in the distance that started the edge of SeaClan territory. "I'll lead the way then," I let out a small relieved breath, the wind buffeting my tabby fur as I stood.
"I hope you're right..." The calico muttered behind me.
I prayed to StarClan that I was.
What was once a camp full of loud cats exchanging stories and planning patrols, soon became silent and hollow. The cats stared in shock, watching as I padded in with a stranger. An outsider.
The noise of my paws brushing against the smooth rocky landscape of the camp was clearly heard by all. The silence was deafening, and all those surrounding refused to move.
With what seemed like seasons of me just standing there, Longstar emerged from his den. His eyes skirted from me to Wave. He glanced over towards the curious yet questioning faces of my Clanmates. Slowly, he made his way to me, his broad body casting a shadow over Wave.
"Who is this?" His simple question echoed across the quiet land.
"Her name is Wave. She has information for us." I replied.
Wave shuffled uncomfortably behind me, I glanced towards her, seeing that she was avoiding the glare of Longstar. Her breathing was ragged with fear. She was uncertain that my plan would work out.
Wouldn't be the first time. I shrugged away the unpleasant thought.
"Information?" Longstar questioned, sizing up the small she-cat. "What could a rogue possibly tell us?"
"The killer of Foxfang."
The surrounding cats whispered solemnly to each other. However, their eyes did not show sadness, but a slightly tired expression.
"Hollytail," the tabby begin quietly, "Foxfang's death was almost a season ago... Perhaps we should understand that finding the killer is nearly impossible?"
I was struck. Uncertainty growing deep inside my chest. They were doubting me again, doubting that my calling would be fulfilled. I promise Finchflight I would do it, nothing would ever get in the way of that.
"She knows. She has information on the strongest fighters of the rogues. It is almost certain that we will find them with her." I insisted. I wouldn't let him send her back out again, I refused.
His eyes watched Wave carefully, skirting back over to me quickly. "In exchange for what?"
"She needs a place to stay," I mewed.
Laughter. Some cats let out small sneers of disbelief, but some murmured softly in fear.
"What if this is a trap...?" One of them whispered.
"You believe your deputy would allow that to happen?" I snapped at whoever uttered those words. I regretted near after, for those same doubtful, questioning glares landed back on me once more.
Longstar stepped closer towards us. "Will she provide for the Clan? If she is finding refuge in our land, I must ensure that she will do as most Clan cats do."
"Are you really considering this, Longstar?" I recognized the voice of Mousefoot from across the clearing.
"If I allow this to happen, it will finally put this search to rest." Longstar exhaled deeply. "Foxfang will rest in peace, and Hollytail will be able to focus on her deputy duties once more."
Mousefoot shied back into the crowd. I glanced back towards Wave, whose eyes bore deep into my fur. Yes, I told her she wouldn't have to work like a Clan cat, but would she rather stay outside in danger?
"It is done then." The tabby ordered, calling towards the cats of SeaClan around us. "The rogue- Wave - shall stay with us for the time-being."
The cats around us dipped their heads, beginning to disperse back to their duties around us. Longstar passed by me, heading towards Wave.
"Meet me in my den. We must converse about the killer, hm?" He nodded to her. She slowly gave a nod back in reply.
The calico gave me a small worried blink, but then reluctantly followed him towards his den.
As she left, I felt the soft fur of another on my flank. I looked to my right, meeting the stare of Finchflight. She was frowning slightly.
"You are exhausted, friend." She mewed softly, her voice but a whisper in my ears. "Foxfang meant so much to both of us. I know you blame yourself, Hollytail... But I don't blame you." She tried to provide me a weak smile.
I turned away from the light brown tabby. "In order for Foxfang to rest peacefully, we have to find who was responsible."
"How will he even rest when you keep his death fresh in our minds?" Finchflight's voice seemed hurt. "Hollytail... It's almost been a season. We have to let it go sometime."
I ripped my pelt away from her, feeling angry and disappointed in the very she-cat that was my best friend since birth. I shook my head slowly, glaring at her with a strange, growing fire. I turned away without another word, storming back off into the forest.
Another cut in our friendship.
Mere days felt like moons. The cold felt like harsh spikes along my pelt with each coming day of Leaf-bare. Finally, we were in the middle of it. Brief episodes of snow would crash around us, freezing our only water supply, causing havoc in the Clan. But like every other Leaf-bare, we fought through.
It was a particularly colder day, the sun covered with clouds, a threat of flurries always above. I remembered hearing stories from my parents of warmer oceans they had ventured to in their youth.
However, ours was bitter with freezing weather. It would never snow very much, but when it did it kept most cats in the clearing.
The questioning of Wave seemed to last an entire moon. She was exhausted, always tired, trying to do her best to help Longstar, but also trying her best to provide for the Clan. I would try my best to teach her to hunt, but she was far past a teachable age for such things. She would leap, miss, leap, miss, and the cycle would begin again.
A gust of chilly wind buffeted my fur, I glanced over to the calico who was gnawing on a skinny mouse. Usually mice don't stray too far from SkyClan territory, so it seemed a lucky catch.
I padded over, letting her head rise to look me in the eyes.
"Good hunting today, hm?" I tried to smile, giving her a false sense of hope.
She shook her head. "Red..." She paused to think of the name. "Redwing? Yes, Redwing caught it."
I stifled a laugh, settling myself beside her. "Soon you will know the names of all of the cats here. They will be like family to you."
She gave me a sour look. "Family? Up until Longstar kicks me out when I have nothing more to give him." The she-cat scowled down at her unfinished mouse.
"I promised I'd find you somewhere else to stay afterward."
"Yeah, sure. But whenever you find Fox-whatever's killer..." She paused. "You're not even gonna care for me anymore..."
I saw the hurt glittering in her eyes. "I told you, you are important to me."
"Important for ending this search. That's it. You made that clear before." She fluffed out her fur, lowing her head sadly. "I saw the way your treating your friend. I don't want to end up like that, Hollytail."
My eyes widened with shock. "Finchflight?" I could barely say above a whisper. "We're only fighting because-"
"Because she got in the way between you and your goal. It's always been like that, since the day I met you." Wave ended my sentence.
She got to her paws, her usually wide, curious eyes becoming a blank stare. "Let me leave, Hollytail. Let me go before this mess becomes more than you can handle."
I blinked rapidly. "What do you mean?" Anger began to rise in my voice. "We're so close! You- You can't leave now!" My fur was prickling despite my efforts to keep my temper down.
Her sea-green eyes stared at me, dark and now as angry as I was. "You won't be happy with the results you get..." She stopped, thinking. "You will... You will never let that tom rest peacefully. You will... Always want revenge."
I couldn't help that my claws unsheathed, but I saw the fear in Wave's face as she noticed. "Fine, you wanna leave? Let's go. I'm taking you back to the shore."
Wave's mouth gaped, clearly not expecting me to give in to her empty demands. She didn't seem to know what to do until I walked past her. "Let's go." I mewed more sternly, wanting to leave as I saw others begin to look at our fight.
She trailed behind me. The trek was silent, the sky darkening as more clouds overhead swarmed together. I weaved between the trees, hearing the soft crash of the ways grow stronger in my ears. Finally, my paws touched the soft sand, sinking slightly into it. I turned to Wave, opening my mouth for the final departing words.
"I'm sorry," Wave interrupted me. "Please... I'm sorry, I don't want to go back." Her teeth were clenched, head dipped down low in slight shame.
Unsure of what to say, I just watched her silently.
"I don't want to be alone again, I don't want to have to live in fear of the rogues again..." She took a step towards me, a pleading expression set on her face. "I'm not good at being like a Clan cat, but I don't want to go. I want to stay with you."
I broke away from her gaze, glaring at my paws. I took began to walk forward, unsure why, but closer towards the ocean. I heard Wave continue on behind me, but I didn't dare look back.
I settled right where the icy water lapped at my paws. "I don't miss him much anymore." I told her, I didn't understand why these words came out, but they did. "I... I know he's at peace. I know I don't have to find the killer. But it just feels... Empty to know that I failed. I was the cause of his death."
Wave was quiet, sitting beside me, her fluffy tail wrapping around her paws.
"I made a faulty battle plan. We were supposed to scare the rogues from our territory... But I didn't count for more rogues to be in your ranks, for them to not be scared away like how they were before. They fought back furiously... They killed him, and it was all my fault..." My voice broke, claws gripping the loose sand before me, washed away by the salty water.
"So now they all doubt you? As a deputy...?" Wave's voice was fragile, wavering like a small, frightened kit. She was still upset from the conversation just moments earlier.
Silence. Feeling long and drawn out, yet only lasting mere moments.
"Perhaps... I doubt myself more than they doubt me."
The calico remained quiet, pondering on the right words for a reply. She then turned, catching my eyes with her own. They were as if the ocean itself were locked inside, beautiful yet mysterious, swimming around with secrets like the waves of the sea. I had always noticed, but never like this. Never in this way.
"Is what you said true? Am I truly important to you?" Wave murmured.
The look on my face was enough of an answer to satisfy her.
She broke away from my gaze. A deep longing to keep staring into her alluring eyes remained, but the moment had ended. That was that.
A small intake of breath. "You showed me compassion when no other cat would. The rogues took me in as a debt, Hollytail. My mother was one of them... A good one of 'em too. Brilliant fighter... Hunter... Everything. But she only loved me. Would never tell me 'bout my father, terrible tom, he was," her words began to fall into the speaking of the rogues, almost mindlessly, as if drifting into one's native tongue.
"Her one request, before she died from sickness, which is quite common in near the ocean where the water is cold and fish are an easy meal..." A small choke in her words, she was upset. "'Take care of her. For all I've done for you lot, I deserve this one wish' she said. Oh yes, they kept it the first few seasons, but recently... Hunger, maybe? Drove them near gull-brained. Wanted everyone to do their part. Couldn't do my own part. Maybe I got that from my father, eh?" She released a halfhearted laugh, ears flattening against her small head. "Rogues never keep their word, Hollytail... Why did you care, out of any cat in the world, why did you care for a rogue like me?"
"The same reason why you agreed to come back to my Clan. The same reason why you wouldn't run away when I visited you by the shore. The same reason why all of this has happened."
"Do you believe in destiny, Hollytail?"
I smiled. "As strong as my belief in StarClan."
"StarClan..." Wave sighed deeply. "Never believed in such starry figures in the sky. Well, maybe I do, a bit... But they don't impact a rogue like me. Just all them Clan cats..."
"Maybe one day I could tell you about them," I mewed, rising up to my paws, nodding at her, a beckon to head home. Our home, SeaClan.
"I would like that."
Ginger fur. Brown fur. Brilliant patched fur on a white surface. Surrounding me, the faces of the ones I have loved and cared for.
Their words just gibberish in my ears, yet somehow calming. Their meows like constant calming words entering my mind. Just their voices were enough for me, for once.
But the scene changed, lightning flashing, a storm rumbling above in the sky. Was it even raining that day? Was this just my mind altering the landscape of a terrible night?
The brown fur disappeared. She was lost within the cats beginning to appear around me. Yowls and screams of fallen cats were blocking off any logical thoughts. I couldn’t reason with myself, my claws were ripping clumps of fur off my competitor; a large rogue with dark eyes and a thirst for blood.
I saw him. A ginger pelt pinned under some tabby of equal size. How did I not remember this moment before? Was my mind blocking off memories of something I had seen?
But my gaze was ripped away by the tom I was fighting with. A bite to my shoulder left an awful sting. I retaliated with a dangerous blow to the face, catching one of his eyes in the process. He howled in anger, desiring revenge for such an attack on his vision.
Before he leaped on me, another ginger pelt had landed on him. A kin of the first ginger tom. A brother.
“I’ve got him, Hollytail! Go help by Longstar! We’ve nearly got ‘em!” His name was Redwing. A friend.
I gave him a nod of thanks, but he was too busy wrestling with the large tom to notice. I would personally thank him later; I came to an agreement with myself.
I was searching for our leader within the midst of the battle. Still in shock myself, for the rogues had known. How had they known? My battle plans were normally flawless! My chance to prove my position as deputy, and the rouges had to ruin it.
The fighting stopped; claws stopped ripping through flesh, fangs ceased to snap at others. A brief few moments of silence deafened those around us.
He had yowled out the words. The words I wanted to forget forever. My leader proclaiming the demise of one of the strongest. My friend.
But within this re-occurrence of a memory that had driven my motives for the past season, I had realized something.
The corner of my eye, where cats were swarming the body of the fallen to where I couldn’t even see his ginger fur, I saw her. Calico fur scrambling away on large boulders, following behind fellow rogues.
Yes, I had known she was a part of the battle. Yes, I had known she fought on opposing sides.
But something was off.
I startled awake, looking around at the den before me. Every cat was fast asleep, gently snoring as a slow-paced breeze buffeted our pelts.
Next to me lay her. Calico fur nearly pressed against my body, sleeping soundly, silently, peacefully. She was closer than usual, but it comforted me.
I let myself forget the dream. Finchflight was right. To get over Foxfang's death, I had to stop bringing it back up, I had to let it not stay fresh in everyone's minds.
Especially my own.
The night passed and the day was new. Longstar had called me in to his den. This wasn't a surprising thing, as the deputy was normally apart of leadership roles and decisions within the Clan.
"You assigned patrols, correct?" Longstar welcomed me in with a quick dip of the head.
"Of course. SkyClan is quiet as always. The rogues haven't seemed to have made an appearance in quite a while. All is well." I responded, sitting down quietly in front of my leader.
He peered into my green eyes with curiosity. "You are calmer than usual, Hollytail. No talk of Foxfang today?"
The name stung in my mind, but I shook it away quickly. "Finchflight told me it was best to let it go. I agree with her."
"And what of the rogue? Wave?" Longstar questioned. "Is she officially joining SeaClan?"
"I-I'm not sure..." I stumbled on my words. Would she stay..?
"Actually, the she-cat was the subject I wanted to bring up to you.I know you want to get over Foxfang, but..." The tabby got to his paws, looking out the exit of the den, watching the passerby cats chat and laugh in the camp. "There seems to be something she's not telling us."
"What?" Fear suddenly gnawed in my belly. I wanted to forget this mess, to let Foxfang rest in peace. But somehow... The thought of our knowledge of his murderer growing was something I still desired deep down.
"I believe she knows the killer."
My fur rose slightly on my neck. "That's absurd. She would've told me."
Longstar gave me a quizzical look. "Maybe she's trying to save her own tail? Maybe she has a rogue out there that would claw her ears off if she told? Maybe it was... An agreement?" He waited for a response, but as I stayed silent, he continued on. "Berryclaw told us of Foxfang's broken neck. She didn't seem surprised by it when I mentioned it to her. It was as if she expected such a fate."
I recalled mentioning Foxfang's death to Wave moons ago. She was in shock, clearly not knowing the tom had died within the battle. Her knowing of a broken neck seemed... Unlikely. Unless, she knew the tom had withstood an injury and didn't know he passed in the process...? Everything seemed false, like a small lie a mother tells to her kit to keep them safe.
I shook my head. "She's only trying to help us, Longstar." I insisted.
"If she wants to be apart of this Clan, she is going to have to tell us all she knows, Hollytail." He sighed deeply. "I know you and her have this... "Bond"... Friendship, maybe? But you're going to need to trust your leader more than you trust a rogue. I'm going to keep an eye on her and question her further. I'm sorry."
I kept myself from protesting. Once Longstar had his way there was no changing his decision. "Of course..." I meowed softly. "It would be... The only right thing to do." I turned around, searching for a look that allowed to me to leave the den. Finally, I padded out into the busy clearing.
My appearance went unnoticed. There was nothing extravagant about me anymore. There were no eyes of judgement darting towards me, no doubt, no fear. I was finally the trusted deputy I was before the incident. The deputy I was before revenge consumed all my thoughts.
I jumped at the touch of another at my side. It was just the tip of a brown tabby tail, but enough to break me from the constrictions of my mind.
Green eyes met mine, warm and full of an endless curiosity. It was a beauty I had always loved and cared for.
"News of Wave is getting about, Hollytail." Finchflight meowed, settling down as an invite for me to sit with her.
"What do you mean?"
There was a small sigh, an urge to avoid any fight that could occur with these words. "Hollytail, you were- are my best friend. We were so close for ages, since kithood. But I don't... I don't understand you anymore."
I watched her with blank eyes. Confusion swimming in my mind, but not enough to respond.
"You care for this rogue, but she is hiding secrets from even you. It's not safe for her to stay. She clearly still has ties with the rogue group by the shore, Hollytail..."
There was a small rustle of wind against the few patches of grass on the ground. "You don't know her like I know her, Finchflight. She's... Kind, and caring, and couldn't harm a hair on any cat's pelt." I insisted, my eyes begging for her to believe me, out of any warrior here.
She lowered her head, looking off to the distance, sadness filling her big green eyes. "This isn't about Foxfang anymore. This isn't about the rogues... This is about Wave, and you wanting her to stay. We can't let her stay."
I got up to leave her side. I couldn't keep listening to this.
"You spent moons of your life for this," her voice showed she was now pleading with me. "You out of all cats should know that rogues cannot be trusted. She tells you she is helping, but how can she help if she keeps things from us?"
I left to the warriors den. I knew Wave was in there. I wanted to see her, to escape from Finchflight and Longstar. I just needed to be alone from the accusations they spat out, the hate they had of the rogues.
Where did my hate go? Where did the despise I had for rogues go? Why did I trust Wave? When had Wave given me any reason to trust her?
Why did I care so much?
As I pushed through the bushes surrounded the warriors den, I stopped.
Her words entered my mind, the day I brought her back from the shore. The day where she told me of her mother's life.
Rogues never keep their word.
Part Three: Closure
You took my soul and wiped it clean.
Our love was made for movie screens.
But If you loved me, why'd you leave me?
Take my body, Take my body.
All I want is, And all I need is to find somebody.
-All I Want, Kodaline
We walked silently across the territory of SeaClan. The sky was unusually clear for a Leafbare night. We continued on, pelts constantly brushing against one another. It was chilly, so an excuse to be so close to each other would be due to cold, but we knew otherwise.
My paws moved on to the familiar terrain of the ocean shore. The sand was damp with evening dew, sinking under our paws as we slunk down the hill, closing in on the sea.
The waves were soft, quiet like the mew of a kit. Their crashing was replaced by gentle lapping at the shoreline. We lowered ourselves down in front of the boulder, the very rock that I found her by moons before.
The sky twinkled with dozens of glittering stars; Silverpelt was the most prominent feature of the night as always.
The night sky reflected across the ocean waters, only be obstructed slightly by the slivers of ice that began to form on the surface.
Wave stared up towards the heavens, her sea blue eyes once again filled with the same youthful curiosity of before.
"Tell me about them."
I laid down, pushing myself down across the sand, belly first, relishing in the softness against my fur. She settled down beside me, her tail tip lightly brushing against my back.
"They watch over us. Nearly ever cat from Clans of now and Clans of the past... Ancestors, parents, kin that you lost or never knew. All above us." I sighed deeply, peacefully.
She continued to look towards them, as if she could feel them within her. "Do they protect you?"
"They try their best to. You can't control things such as rogue attacks or Clan disruptions... However, we like to thank StarClan for such peace with SkyClan, since it could be much worse." I replied.
"Do they forgive?" The calico's voice was frail, her head turning slowly to face me.
"Do you think... I'll go there... When I die?"
My eyes locked with hers, I rolled from my belly to my side, giving into a small smile. "Yeah," I replied in a tone that matched her softness. "I couldn't imagine you deserving any less."
She finally flopped next to me, sinking deeply into the soft sand, sending up a flurry of little bits into my face. I sniffled slightly the clear it from my nose.
"We should just leave. You and I, just head out and- and just go." I released in a hurried slur of words. "Wave and Hollytail. Both of us against the world. We could follow along the sea and... I could hunt for you and..."
Wave stared, her typically wide eyes growing even bigger with shock. She avoided my gaze, her pelt seemed to prickle with unease.
I got to my paws quickly, embarrassment causing my cheeks to grow red hot. However, another pain grew in my chest, feeling like a stone was placed inside, breaking apart into clawlike shards. Disappointment.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything." My typical composure had returned, cold and recluse. Everything I had regretted in becoming, but now relished in as it kept the pain from taking over like before. "I just thought that maybe... Nevermind." I turned my back on the tide that neared my paws.
"No, I'm sorry." Wave replied, her voice becoming flat, lifeless. "I haven't been honest with you."
The pain was bubbling up more with every word. Why did I care so much? The same set of words from before came back to me like a hit to the head. It still astonished me that some calico had captured all my attention, yet will a simple meow, she had me.
"What do you mean?" I turned my head until her image was just barely in the line of my vision.
"We can't run off together. We can't go off and I can't come back to SeaClan. I have to stay here, away from all the warriors, away from... From anyone." Her frail body against the surrounding ocean made her seem exceptionally small.
Broken. Everything inside felt torn apart, slashed away and burnt like the remains of a forest fire.
I slowly made my way in front of her, the tide was closing in, lapping at our paws as we stood.
"You can't leave."
The stars were gleaming overhead. They shone across the ocean, reflecting in the pupils of her eyes which glistened with the beginnings of tears.
Her eyes, her face, everything that use to remind me of Finchflight, had become her own. Eyes blue like the sea and with a pelt resembling the dappled sunlit ground of the forest, she was Wave.
She was beautiful and I loved her.
"You can't leave," I repeated as I saw her avoid my gaze once more. "You mean to much to me, and I can't lose you, not again, not ever."
The calico's tail wrapped around her paws, brushing against mine in the act. "You really do care." She murmured, bringing herself closer to my face, breath escaping and feeling hot on my muzzle. "It was my fault," her voice died off into my ears.
My mind was a thunderstorm, lightning flashing as memories began to flood back. The heat of battle, Foxfang's broken neck, seeing calico fur scrambling up a boulder, Finchflight's yowls and a ruined friendship.
Berryclaw's words repeating in my head like a reoccurring nightmare. His neck was broken. His neck was broken.
His neck was broken.
"How? How!" I screamed, spit flinging from my jaws, the love in my eyes gone in a blink.
She was backing away, taking a few steps in fear into the shallow water. I advanced upon her, fiery rage filling my head. I could not manage to reason with myself, to remind myself that this was the she-cat I had fallen for, the one I spent moons protecting. It felt destroyed.
"Tell me now!" I hissed as the wind began to pick up, buffeting my fur furiously.
She lowered herself fearfully, her ears flattening against her head. "I-I fell. I remember you there, you were fighting with a ginger tom and he was too and I just... I fell off the boulders onto him as he fought with another rogue... I was so scared that I ran right back up the rock because the other rogue was so mad at me," her words stuttered from her mouth, scared as if she might get the same fate.
"You killed... You killed him!" My voice was cracking, breaking inside with mixed emotions causing me to feel sick to my stomach.
The tears began to soak her fur, the waves were crashing deep in the ocean, echoing in the rush of the wind. "He was about to die, Hollytail, I'm being honest. The rogue was going for his throat and-"
"The rogue? Aren't you forgetting what you are yourself?" I spat, snarling in her face. "I spend almost two seasons on this, searching... I was made a fool in front of my clanmates! I... I trusted you!" My voice now was more hurt than anything, teeming with bottled up aching that I had pushed aside for moons. The wind wailed against me now, waves becoming thunderous in my ears. What I would give to be taken away by the tide.
"What was I supposed to say?" She whispered, still pressed to the ground, water soaking the fur of her belly. "Tell you that I made a mistake? That my claws slipped from the rocks and I fell? That I felt the snap of his neck below my body and the hisses of an angry rogue-mate echoing in my ears?" Wave slowly rose, her meow raising with a brief spurt of courage. "Was I supposed to tell you how I have nightmares about it? That none of the rogues know because they didn't stay long enough to see the body? That his very image still haunts my mind every night? They would've killed me, Hollytail! SeaClan and the rogues!"
With the final sentence feeling like a yowl into the sky, lightning flashed before us, lighting up silverpelt for just a few brief, heart stopping moments. Then it was silent. The wind softened along with the waves, yet clouds still gathered above. The calm before the storm.
"He doesn't only haunt your dreams, Wave."
I turned my back on her, on the sea, on the stars. Everything. It felt so sudden, but so complete. It was over, my little piece of happiness on the shore.
It was as if time had slowed, yet over in a blink of an eye. Words exchanged in hushed voices with a leader, hushed voices turning into raised questions, then into yells, then into commands.
Nervous eyes watching from dens, whispering in confusion yet... Knowing. Queens pulling their questioning kits to their bellies, yet not daring to back away from a sudden excitement. Or was it worry?
Higher yowls screaming into the sky, a leader angry, a deputy with a gaping mouth. Regret. What has she done to the one she loved?
Warriors rushing to the leader's side, orders being spit out. A hunting patrol. It would happen in the morning. Except, this time, the target was not a meal.
A friend of a friendship now diminished, standing in the middle, surrounded by those she loved and protected, yet feeling so bitterly alone. Watching her once closest denmate argue with the leader. She knew what was happening, everyone did. They had found the killer.
Ginger fur in her memories, becoming stale and distant. Love still in her heart, tears still in her eyes, a dull aching from a death that was almost forgotten. A dream of kits and a lost friend.
She began to cry.
I couldn't breathe, I was gasping, dying for air that was available but not able to escape into my lungs.
I tried to argue, that I didn't want her dead, I just wanted justice for... Foxfang.
Isn't this what you wanted? Tallstar's words replayed in my mind. You said you wouldn't stop until the killer was dead. Despite your friendship with this rogue, I will fulfill this promise I made you.
I wanted to escape, to go back to where we were happy on the beach, curled up beside one another. I wanted to fix her reply, so that she would've went with me, just the two of us. I don't care that she killed him, it was an accident, and I should've understood that when she told me.
But I let the rage take control. I let it bring me back here, let it tell Tallstar everything, let it ruin the one thing that bright life back to me after Foxfang's death.
I loved her with my entire being. Maybe in the same way I had loved Finchflight. Except Wave had grown into her own being, her own face with her own name, a beautiful she-cat who I could not compare a single soul to.
A friend that never left me behind, even when I did to her.
The cats were pooling into the clearing of camp, chattering in worried voices, wondering if they could be next on Wave's so-called 'plan'.
I wanted to scream at them that it was an accident. Or did I just want to scream it to myself so it may just finally sink in?
I could almost feel Wave's muzzle against my whiskers once again. It was my fault.
"No it wasn't!" I didn't know I was yowling out loud now. They stared at me, as if I was losing my mind.
Maybe I was.
I heard Finchflight gently weeping nearby, watching me through her quiet sobs. Her once glimmering pelt was dull, her cries full of agony that she shouldn't have felt in moons. She was coming towards me now, summoning strength to maybe say something to me.
"Don't blame yourself, Hollytail." Tears were dripping down her muzzle, falling from her whiskers. "Please, I care for you so much, don't blame it all on you. Rogues trick and lie all the time I just-" She succumbed to a brief sob. "Everything is bubbling back up like it's happening all over again."
I stared, not a single word being able to creep out my mouth. My brown tabby pelt began to bristle, and Finchflight backed up a few steps, glaring through watering, green eyes.
"You meant everything to me. You and Foxfang," I stuttered out, sounding like a kit just beginning to mew. "She was there when I needed her. She was always there, she made me-" I rapidly shook my head, my entire personality felt split, a war within my mind.
Don't lose it, Hollytail. I had to remind myself again and again, but I felt feverish, I felt like I was dying and full of adrenaline all at the same time. I had gone from quiet to energetic with rage and a fiery regret.
The night was almost over, the sky was becoming a milky purple fading to pink along the horizon. The stars were twinkling out above us as we spoke. I felt dizzy and sick. Emptiness digging at my heart yet still full of a draining emotion.
I was staring into Finchflight's eyes for what felt like moons. Thoughts that I couldn't pick out swimming in my mind like fish in a small pond.
The patrol was being set off before I even comprehended what was happening. Longstar was leading.
"I loved Foxfang, and I cared for you with the power of all of SeaClan." Finchflight started slowly, almost in fear of my unstable temper. "You think this is wrong? Then I am behind you. I told you to let it go, just like how I wanted to let it go," the pain in her voice was unbearable. "I don't care if there's justice anymore. I never cared. Save her, Hollytail, by StarClan, save her." She was pleading now.
It was over.
I darted out of the clearing, following the scent of my clanmates, heading towards the shore with blood pounding in my ears. I felt like a strike of lightning, dashing through the territory and weaving through the trees. My paws were getting ahead of myself and I tripped, colliding with a jutting rock in a daze.
My head felt like it was splitting in half, perhaps by my jumbled thoughts combining with injury. I suddenly collapsed, releasing my sick onto the ground. Blood slightly dripped from my mouth, I had bitten my tongue on collision, it was fine, everything was fine.
But time was running out, I stumbled up, trying to dizzily make my way to shore. I felt like heaving up the bile in my stomach again, but I couldn't. I saw them.
With a newfound energy, I skirted onto shore, bowling myself towards the cats that yowled in anguish. I clawed whatever I could, took the injuries away from the small curled up bundle of fluff below me. Let them attack until they realized who it was.
"Get off! Get away from her!" I hissed.
"What are you doing, Hollytail? What are you doing!" Longstar, the leader of this very patrol, demanded.
No going back.
I felt blood below me, below the cat I was hovering over protectively. Hot and sticky on my paws, sending terrible flashbacks to a battle from before. Was it mine or hers?
"Get away from her," I repeated with the same ferocity. "Touch her again and I swear to StarClan!"
"This was your idea!"
"Not anymore. Don't you dare come near us, Longstar. It's over, it's done." I lowered myself until my muzzle lightly pressed against her fur, yet still standing over her, staring deeply at those I use to call clanmate.
Longstar nodded towards the patrol, and they slowly began backing away, past the sand dunes until it was just me, Longstar, and the bundle beneath me.
He sighed deeply, somewhat in disbelief. "Any other cat... But my own deputy? My own deputy?" He winced. "SeaClan has made a mistake. I have made a mistake, you should have never been a leader. Just giving you a taste of power has ruined you..."
"Nothing ruined me. This is what's right."
"A season ago and that she-cat would've been dead under your paws!" The tabby spat with a slight tone of begging. "How do you know this is right?"
I didn't answer. I just stared with blank eyes, claws unsheathed, my bristling fur beginning to smooth against my spine.
"You're going to be leaving so much behind. Finchflight, your position, your Clan! Is she worth it?"
I shook my head. "To me, she is worth all of StarClan and more."
The warmth under me was beginning to grow. Still flowing, expanded around. Please let it be from me.
Without another word, Tallstar slowly turned from me, looking into the sea. His eyes turned glassy, shame and emptiness growing inside of him. Then he was gone, as if the last connection to my past was finally cut off, dissolving from my very being.
I felt breath against my paws and my eyes looked in horror at the heap below me. I scrambled down to her side, licking the wounds with a growing terror in my heart.
"Wave, it's okay. I got you now, we're going to be alone from now on." I assured her, my voice weak.
My head began to pound again, my injury coming back to me as the adrenaline faded.
"H-Hollytail?" Her voice was bubbling as blood was growing in her throat. The injuries were scratches all over her pelt. They fought dirty, not like a warrior should.
A gash in her belly was so deep, oh StarClan, why did you let this happen?
"I'm here now. You're okay and we're gonna be... We're gonna be okay." I was nearly panting, desperately licking her wounds, whipping my head around to search for her nest by the boulder. "Do you still have cobwebs left over?"
She pressed her muzzle against my leg, then began to turn her head to face the sea. "It's so beautiful, Hollytail. The sunrise always was my favorite part of l-living here..." She began to trail off.
"I have given up too much, please Wave. I can't go back, I tossed it all away for you." I pressed my face into the fur of her shoulder, she weakly licked it in response, letting out a feeble purr. " I... I love you," I choked.
"You said they'd let me in, right?" Wave murmured, avoiding my words, her calico fur tinting red as her breaths became more shallow. "Will he be there too?"
"Yes," I gave a small smile, despite everything inside me breaking apart into thousands of pieces. "And you'll never go hungry. There's endless hunting and every cat is friendly and welcoming. I'm sure he'll forgive you too."
Her eyelids began fluttering as the tides was pulling in, tugging against the sides of her flank. "He says it's going to be beautiful... Stars in their pelts... Oh, Hollytail, it'll be great"
I pressed into her fur again, breathing in the scent that I had grown to adore, ignoring the unavoidable.
"I-I'll wait for you. My only friend..." Wave exhaled weakly, her tail resting starting to curl up. "I-I love you too. Remember that, always. Thank you."
Her tail stilled, her eyes set on the ocean, the one thing that she always craved to be near. It comforted her, just as it now comforted me.
I listened to the soft noises of the water as I rose my muzzle from her pelt. It was still warm, still full of a false sense of life.
I stared at the sea that had matched her eyes in color. I watched the waves that she was named after. I smelled the salty air that pushed towards me from the wind.
There was no returning, there was an unknown future ahead of me, one that I had to fight through alone. Everything I had fought for had come down to this. All for Finchflight, Foxfang, and Wave.
Yet I finally felt at peace.
Then I picked up her calico body and slowly dragged it, pulling it out into the tides, letting it be swept from my jaws and into what she had loved. Drifting off and disappearing into the gentle morning waves.
And then she was gone.